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Fuzion Frenzy 2; Wii Play

Two new collections of casual games intended to be the life of the party, "Wii Play" and "Fuzion Frenzy 2," instead come off as a surefire way to make your friends leave early.

Two new collections of casual games intended to be the life of the party, “Wii Play” and “Fuzion Frenzy 2,” instead come off as a surefire way to make your friends leave early.

Casual game collections are designed to be “pick-up and play” titles that have very little plot, easy-to-learn controls and require virtually no time commitment (unlike a typical role playing game, which take upwards of 40 hours to complete). The simple designs and short challenges are supposed to make them perfect for gamers of all skill levels to play together.

Nintendo’s new console, the Wii, appears to be perfect for the format. As demonstrated by last year’s ultra-succesful “Wii Sports,” its intuitive, remote-like controller is easy for almost anyone to pick up and start using.

But “Wii Play’s” controls are a step backward. Of the nine included games, billiards is the most disappointing. This should have been a slam dunk on the Wii. Pull back the remote to cock your shot, then push it forward to strike the cue ball. Sadly, the controls are neither easy nor responsive and prove to be maddeningly frustrating.

Only two of the nine games are fun. Shooting Range is a wonderfully updated version of the Nintendo classic Duck Hunt, while Table Tennis is an excellent two-player game that’s almost as fun as the real thing.

That’s two more decent games than can be found in “Fuzion Frenzy 2,” Microsoft’s attempt to bring casual players to its Xbox 360, a system that appeals primarily to hardcore gamers who love “Halo” and “Gears of War.”

Though it features an impressive 40+ minigames, most are extremely boring and clunky. Only one that’s even remotely playable is the “Tron” light-cycle rip-off Trail Blazer.

All of “Fuzion Frenzy 2’s” games are set against a futuristic space background that starts to look annoyingly similar in a very short time.

Rather than spending $50 on either title, those looking for a quick, fun videogame would be better advised to just log onto Yahoo Games or Pogo.com and play any one of hundreds of fun casual games available for free.

Fuzion Frenzy 2; Wii Play

Production: Fuzion Frenzy 2 A Microsoft Game Studios presentation of a game developed by Hudson Soft for the Xbox 360. Rated E 10+. $49.99 Wii Play Nintendo presentation of a game developed by Nintendo for the Wii. Rated E. $49.99

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